A year of surveys: PL holds on to gap as crisis unfolds

The prolongation of the government’s crisis in parliament first helped the PL to widen its lead from 9 points in January to 14 points in March but then narrowed to 8 points in the last survey of the year.

James Debono
2 January 2013, 12:00am
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Opposition leader Joseph Muscat.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Opposition leader Joseph Muscat.

2012 started with Labour enjoying a 9-point lead over the PN amidst rumours of an imminent election sparked by a Franco Debono threat to bring the government down following the January Cabinet reshuffle. However, 2012 also ended with the PL enjoying an 8-point lead after the government lost the budget vote and elections were called.

This suggests that little has changed over the past months with Labour holding on to its lead.

But in reality the prolongation of the crisis after the government survived a confidence vote in January at first worked in the PL's favour with the gap increasing to a staggering 14 points in March and than against it, with the gap being narrowed to 11 points in May following the no confidence vote in Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici.

While expectations of an imminent election boosted Labour's fortunes in Autumn with the gap remaining steady at 12 points in the months of September and October, the two post-budget surveys saw the PN narrowing the gap first to 9 and than to 8 points.

The PN reached its lowest ebb in February just after surviving a confidence vote thanks to the Speaker's casting vote and after Gonzi called for a leadership contest in which he stood as the sole candidate. Then, the party attracted the support of 22% of respondents. 

Support for the PL peaked in March (39%) and again in September and October when the party surpassed the 40% mark.  But the party registered its lowest level of support in December when it garnered 31%. This suggests that the party was fully geared for an election after the summer recess but the prolongation of the government's life to December has had a negative impact on Labour.

Support for the Greens remained roughly the same oscillating between 1.3 and 2.3 percent, with the greens seeing a peak in support in March on the eve of local elections and in the beginning of December.

The number of undecided shot up from 25% in October to 29% immediately after the budget to a staggering 39% after the government lost its majority.

Surprisingly, Gonzi scored his highest trust rating (35%) in January at the peak of his first confrontation with Franco Debono but subsequently lost 7 points after surviving the first confidence vote of the year, during which Debono abstained and an internal vote in the party to confirm Gonzi as leader was called. 

In the next months, the Prime Minister's trust rating oscillated between 28% and 32%.

Both Gonzi and Muscat registered their lowest trust ratings in the second week of December after the government lost its majority in parliament.

On his part Muscat's trust ratings peaked on the eve of local elections in March and in October where his trust rating surpassed the 45% mark.  However, after the budget for 2013 was presented, Muscat saw a 7-point drop in his trust rating.

James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...